A notice issued by Google on 15 January said during a recent audit, it had found "some third-party Chromium based browsers were able to integrate Google features, such as Chrome sync and Click to Call, that are only intended for Google’s use.
"This meant that a small fraction of users could sign into their Google Account and store their personal Chrome sync data, such as bookmarks, not just with Google Chrome, but also with some third-party Chromium based browsers," it said.
Apart from Edge, Brave and Vivaldi are the two best-known browsers based on Chromium, with the former having its own sync. There are numerous others which are also based on Chromium.
GOOGLE MOTTOS: A HISTORY— MGK Hockey 1234 (@mightygodking) 28 March 2018
1999: Don't Be Evil
2003: Try Your Hardest To Not Be Evil
2008: Make A Reasonable Effort To Avoid Being Evil
2013: What Is Evil, Really, When You Get Down To It, I Mean Really
2018: *just a series of high-pitched giggles*
According to Tom Callaway, who packages Chromium for the Red Hat community distribution, Fedora, this access was "specifically so that we could have open source builds of Chromium with (near) feature parity to Chrome".
Callaway, who posted a long tweet thread about the change, added: "The reasoning given for this change? Google does not want users to be able to 'access their personal Chrome Sync data (such as bookmarks) ... with a non-Google, Chromium-based browser'. They're not closing a security hole, they're just requiring that everyone use Chrome."
Among all the browsers that have been built atop Chromium, only Edge has the kind of possible userbase that will take users away from Chrome. And for a change, Microsoft has built decent software at the very first go; the company normally needs at least three tries before it puts out packages that are usable.
Google often proclaims that it has a commitment to open source but that seems to be governed more by its commercial interests than anything else. This move is in keeping with that.